Friday 20 Apr 2018 | 18:27 | SYDNEY
Friday 20 Apr 2018 | 18:27 | SYDNEY

Never easier to see the world



28 February 2013 15:25

This piece about falling US airline ticket prices in The Atlantic (short version: they've fallen 50% in the last 30 years) reminds me of one of my favourite personal stories about globalisation.

In early 1990 I had just finished high school and was embarking on the rite of passage that so many young Australians take, a backpacking tour of Europe. As you would expect, I was not wealthy, so I remember very clearly how long I shopped around and what I eventually paid for my return airfare from Melbourne to Amsterdam: $1800, flying Air Yugoslavia (!!) on a DC-10.

Now take a look at what you would pay today for this fare (screen grab is from Flight Centre):

Astonishing, isn't it, that fully twenty-three years later I can travel to Europe for around the same money or less?

How is this possible? Some argue that deregulation of the aviation sector has had a lot to do with it, though in the US, at least, there is evidence that prices fell dramatically well before deregulation took place under Jimmy Carter. Technology is a factor — planes may not have gotten faster since the dawning of the jet age, but they are certainly bigger and more efficient. Either way, it's a huge boon for passengers and for the globalised economy, and some would argue that familiarity with foreign cultures also promotes peace.

Footnote: the International Civil Aviation Organisation expects global passenger traffic to go from 2.9 billion in 2012 to 6.3 billion in 2030.

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